The Divergents

When you are looking for a cab and see a Pakistani or Indian driver in the windshield, what do you see? Do you see yourself being robbed? Or do you see a person – same like you – doing his job to earn a living to be able to raise a family waiting for him at home? It’s just that you’re wearing an office attire, and that he wears a shirt.

Since I currently live and work here in Saudi Arabia, I’m going to tell you my personal accounts on the subject of discrimination – not of the government, but of ourselves toward another human being. I was one of those taxi passengers who will look first at the face of the driver before deciding to jump in or not. We hate being marginalized and categorized into the lower faction of the society, yet we ourselves create the gap that drags us down from being the natural divergents we ought to be.

Photo Credit: Sarah Newton

Have you watched the movie in the picture above? It is a science fiction action film about the life of Beatrice Prior who failed the aptitude test when she was 16 years old. This test will tell a person of her age about the group of society she must live her entire life with: Erudite (the intelligent), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), or Candor (the honest). If she does not fit into any category, she will be cast out of the society and will be called Factionless. Turned out the result was inconclusive for her because she belongs to 3 different factions. She is a Divergent.

Now what does it tell about us? How can we relate to this?

Humans were created possessing all of those qualities mentioned before. Yes we have the capacity to be intelligent, selfless, brave, peaceful, and honest – all at the same time, though not at the same level of superiority. If we will only think this way, then we will realize that our fellow human beings can also do the same things we are doing now – even surpass them. It’s just that we have been given different resources for us to use since we were born. And we cannot blame our parents for that.

Some of us were born rich. Some were poor.

Some belong to a family of doctors. Some were raised up by a drug addict.

Some of us are academic achievers. Some are slow-learners.

Some belong to a family of powerful politicians. Some were raised by a farmer.

But what difference does it make if we all breathe the same oxygen that can be found in the whole earth? What difference does a man drinking a purified water make to an African man licking water from a dried up well? Nothing. I tell you. Nothing. These are all humans that have life breathed in by God – deserving to live another day and go on with their day to day tasks.

street vendor
Photo Credit: Saudi Gazette

God commanded us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Easier said than done, right? It’s really hard to see people the way God wanted you to see them. You hear the news about terrorists who are killing thousands of innocent people. Now you see this bearded Arab man walking down the street thinking that he might be a terrorist. It is our natural human tendency to protect our own lives and to flee right away from any potential risks. But I think it will be too much if we still burden ourselves of the things that we do not have full control with.

Who knows? Maybe the villain-looking man you bumped into the market last night was an angel sent by God that will prevent you from a potential accident. Or maybe this guy you suspected to be a thief will be the one who lends you money because you forgot your wallet at home. We hate people who judge others without knowing their real life story. But we do not realize we are slowly becoming like them. We always want to do what we think is right, until we lose the capacity to be kind.

The next time you walk around the public and see suspicious-looking people, go ASK yourself: “Do I look like the same kind of person I am thinking of them?” 🙂